Literacy seems to be paying the most significant price for the progression of technology. As a Harvard study from a few years ago pointed out, it’s not necessarily that Americans are becoming worse spellers on some fundamental level, it’s more that the accessibility to technology, that does most of the grammatical heavy-lifting for us, has made us comfortable overlooking critical grammar and spelling errors.
Whatever the cause behind the reported national decline in literacy is, our confidence remains as buoyant as ever. Recently, Dictionary.com reported that four in five Americans considered themselves to be good spellers even though the majority of the very same participants observed said they often noticed spelling mistakes from others.
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A new study from our friends over at Signs.com corroborates this curious conviction and its implications in the workplace as well as in the boudoir. The study’s participants were composed of 101 Baby Boomers, 168 Gen Xers, 619 Millennials, 108 Gen Zers, and four individuals selecting the “other” option. The average age of the respondents in the study was 33.
Interestingly enough there wasn’t a notable distinction in spelling efficiency with participants that attended public school versus private school. Eighty-four percent of individuals that attended private school said they were happy with their education, and three-quarters of Americans that attended public school echoed this. In any case, most said that English was their best subject in school.
Here are some of the other intriguing finds Sign.com’s report across various industries and generations uncovered.
Some things wrong hear
The study found that Americans tend to overestimate their abilities when it comes to spelling as well as grammar and reading comprehension and several other subjects. Eighty-six percent of women and men felt they were reading comprehension “virtuosos.” Seventy-eight percent of the 1,000 Americans involved in the survey described themselves as super-spellers, and more than 74% reported being proficient in grammar.
The problem is that in America, more than 30 million adults currently have reading, writing and math skills that are more akin to that of a third grader. The American Journal Of Public Health reports, “Low literacy is said to be connected to over $230 billion a year in health care costs because almost half of Americans cannot read well enough to comprehend health information, incurring higher costs.”
The self-assured respondents that participated in Sign.com’s study were tasked with a spelling test following their charitable self-evaluations and the average score was about 75%. Fortunately, the irony didn’t end there – the words that stumped Americans the most were “misspell” and “hypocrisy.” Nearly 43% of Millennials incorrectly spelled the word Millennial, even though on balance, this generation scored the highest compared to older generations.
Is bad spelling costing you work?
Sixty-five percent of respondents said that typos were absolutely unacceptable in their respective industries. Seventy-nine percent said they would not hire someone that frequently made grammar or spelling errors in their resumes. Of the professions analyzed, jobs in advertising, logistics, and government, proved to be the less forgiving of literacy mistakes. Conversely retail and consumer durable occupations cared the least about typos, with only 45% describing them as “unacceptable.”
The vast majority of American women said they privilege intellect over beauty when looking for a partner, but a good portion of men expressed the contrary view. Amongst male respondents, the importance of these values was split almost evenly. Forty-three percent of men valued looks over brains in women, and 56.4% felt the opposite way. For both genders studied, spelling, grammar, and math skills carried a lot of negative points when seeking a partner to date and even more so when marriage was added as a consideration.
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